MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Maryville City Schools is starting a full-time virtual school. The new Maryville Virtual School is designed for students to learn on their own time.

Maryville Virtual School will be another division of Maryville City Schools just like its other brick-and-mortar buildings. It will have its own building for teachers to work from and for students to take state-mandated tests.

When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit East Tennessee, many schools had to quickly come up with virtual schooling options for their students. For Maryville City Schools, this included scheduled zoom lessons with teachers and students having to log in at certain times.

“We did not offer that choice last year to our families in Maryville, and we decided this year that Maryville families really still wanted it,” said Maryville Virtual School Director, Deana Bishop.

Virtual learning will look different from years past at the new, official Maryville Virtual School.

“This is not set Zooms throughout the day, this is asynchronous lessons that are videoed, and assignments are given a week at a time and they’re due back into the school for grading,” explained Bishop.

Bishop said they have about 30 students enrolled so far.

“Right now, we are in the process of hiring teachers for our second to eighth grade. So those teachers, with me at Maryville Virtual School, they will be doing all their instruction from there, and then in high school, 9-12, we’ll have adjunct teachers. Those teachers will be paid to teach that certain class that we need for that course catalog.”

Enrolment rules and tuition fees differ depending on if you live within city limits, and families of students who live outside of the county limits can apply to be tuition students. 

“For residents of Maryville City, there is no tuition. We are a public school. So, if you live within the city limits of Maryville and enroll and are accepted, there is no additional pay. Tuition is the same if you live in Blount County and you want to come to Maryville city schools. I believe it’s $2500 a year,” said Bishop.

MVS has a flat school fee of $45 for software and other materials needed. Students will also have a $40 user fee for laptop usage, but families can apply for partial scholarships.

The goal of MVS is to allow families options on how they want to provide school to their children. Bishop added, “a perk of virtual school is to do it at the families timeline and to meet the families schedule.”

The school system originally hoped to provide schools for kindergarten through 12th grade. However, at the moment, kindergarten and first-grade enrolment are so low they aren’t accepting students currently. However, that could change if more people are interested.

The virtual school is also planning on providing extracurricular activities and clubs to its curriculum. Bishop said they don’t have that part all figured out yet, but they do plan on surveying the students to see what their interests are and go from there.